In 2014 I had the chance to spend one month in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon living with the indigenous tribe of the Kayapo. This experience changed my life and made me grasp how important the Amazon – and its vast ecosystem – is, not only for multiple species and tribes that rely on it as their habitat – but to our planet as a whole.
The tribe of the Kayapo live and thrive based on century old traditions and perform their practices in sustainable harmony with nature – they never hunt too much, and adapt their hunting and farming processes to nature’s seasons.
One aspect that had an especially lasting impact on me was their way of relying on plants for medicinal purposes. My partner at the time got stung by something one day and his foot swell to almost double its size the following day. Instead of getting treatment from the present nurses provided by the Brazilian government (a guideline for every tribe that got in contact with outside people and thus got passed on our diseases) he decided to let the tribe’s elder and shaman do his magic. Not even 24 hours and several plant compresses and tonics later, his foot was back to normal. I still don’t know what exactly he put in the potions that Niklas had to drink, but I know that they all came from the forest. The elder explained to us that the sting was caused by a salamander which caused the foot to swell this immensely. Learning that particular plants, when combined correctly, can help our bodies in the way that it did with Niklas’ foot shifted my awareness and initiated my research on accessible healing plants, studies that proof their effectiveness and the as well as the impact of Western pharmaceutical drugs.
The Habitat of the Kayapo and its importance in a global context
The Kayapo have an assigned land of 11 million hectares, approximately the size of Austria and Switzerland combined. They protect the shrinking borders of their land continuously of deforestation, due to illegal mining, cattle ranching and logging.
When we flew into the village, we could see ourselves HOW MUCH of the Amazon forest had been cut off already. The Kayapo land was the only area still being left, although the fight to protect the borders of illegal intruders is endless and extremely costly.
Deforestation does not only threaten the habitat of the Kayapo Indians but also the ecosystem of the Amazon. In fact, every day we loose approximately 140 species of both animals and plants to deforestation. When it comes to healing plants, we only researched 2% of the Amazonian species and their impacts, while more than 7000 Western medicines are derived from them. When I think about how many incredible and healing plants we might have already lost it gives me an extreme urgency to protect the ones that are still being left.
After visiting the Kaypos, I know that one of the best ways to fight deforestation and protect the lungs of the world is to support their ongoing quest to protect their borders and habitat. Therefore, Nature’s Antidote will donate a percentage of profits to the Kayapo Organization that provides 100% of the money to Kayapo rainforest preservation projects.
I encourage you to visit the Organisations website here and learn a bit more about their incredible work.